On Saturday, February 23rd, Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) honorees braved the snowy weather to attend a workshop to prepare them to enter the professional workforce. For the third straight year, long-time MNAiC partner Veritas Technologies LLC invited awardees into their Roseville, MN headquarters to participate in resume writing, mock interviewing and professionalism guidance. They came dressed for professional success, posed for LinkedIn profile photos, and received feedback on their interviewing skills.
Experts say a good job interview starts well before the job seeker and interviewer meet. Preparation can be as important as the interview itself. Researching, practicing, and dressing appropriately are the first steps to making the most of a job interview. During Veritas Technologies Professional Workshop, honorees received these following tips from Scrum Master and Senior Principal Program Manager, Julie Urban, Software Engineer, Jyotsna Magani, and Operations Program Manager, Angi Lackens:
Your resume serves as a guide to your personality, goals, skill sets, and experience. Prior to applying for an opportunity, Jyotsna Magani recommends updating your resume to include current job experiences and new skills. Potential employers refer to resumes to quickly identify whether you’re an intriguing candidate to be interviewed for the job. Even if you’re new to the workforce, a strong resume can help you stand out!
What to include in your resume:
Name and contact information
Work history including relevant internships
List of achievements, awards and distinctions
Oh… and don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile. Your profile should essentially mimic your paper resume, yet allows the reader to learn more about you.
Learn about the company and the position for which you are interviewing.Before interviewing for a position, you should know what the company does and any recent news about the organization. Many businesses have information on their websites that’s tailored to jobseekers. But don’t stop there: In-depth research is important. Read news publications and other sources of information from an online search that will help you to learn more about the company. This will demonstrate to the interviewer that you’ve done your due diligence and will improve the likelihood of you being considered for the job opportunity.
Another important step in preparing for a job interview is to practice, practice, practice! Think of examples from past jobs, schoolwork, and activities to illustrate valuable skills. Recalling accomplishments beforehand, helps you to give solid answers during the interview.
Be prepared to answer behavioral based interview questions that come in the form of asking you to describe a specific situation where certain conditions were present. The interviewer is looking for you to describe a matching situation, the actions you specifically took, and the resulting outcome and perhaps what you learned.
Every interview is different, and it’s always possible there will be questions that surprise you. Nevertheless, interviewers suggest rehearsing with a friend or mentor to build confidence and poise. As a starting point, try answering these questions aloud:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Can you tell me about a time you dealt with conflict as part of a team?
- Why did you leave, or are you leaving, your job?
- What are your goals?
- Why should we hire you?
Each question allows you to illustrate your favorable characteristics. When responding, focus on subjects related to the job. For example, if asked to describe yourself, talk about your professional characteristics and experiences, as well as hobbies and interests that help to convey that you are well-rounded and interested in learning.
As part of the workshop, students were challenged to participate in a mock interview. Most of the young ladies, said they found the interview especially helpful because they had never experienced an interview and did not know what to expect. Students shared the following:
“ I found the mock interview very helpful because I didn’t really know what questions I would be asked in an interview.”
“ I was really nervous in the mock interview because I wasn’t prepared for the kinds of questions I was asked.”
“The mock interview allowed me to practice talking about myself.”
[DOWNLOAD]: Behavioral Based Interview Questions
4. Dress for Success
First impressions are everything! An in-person interview begins the moment you arrive a few minutes early. Everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the hiring manager, will form an impression of you. To ensure the impression is positive, remember that your appearance, words and mannerisms affect how others perceive you.
Keep your hair neat, and cover any tattoos or piercings, if possible. Avoid cologne and perfume, large pieces of jewelry, and heavy or unnatural makeup. Clothes should be clean, pressed, and fit well — not tight or short. And shoes should be polished and closed-toe, skirts should be on or below the knee.
Many employers expect jobseekers to wear a suit—preferably one in a conservative color such as navy blue, gray, or black—but not all do. It depends on the company and position you are interviewing for. A company with an informal dress code might be fine with you arriving in professional casual attire such as button-down shirt and dress slacks. If you’re not sure about what to wear, dressing up rather than down is recommended.
Behavior and mannerism should match your attire. Be polite, smile and make eye contact with everyone you meet. Make sure you offer a strong handshake while making eye contact — This shows the interviewer that you are professional, confident and mature.
5. Arrive Early
On the day of your interview, give yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel to the interview. Plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. This allows you time to relax, connect with confidence, and to observe your surroundings.
Consider carrying a padfolio to the interview so you have access to preparation notes, copies of your resume and possibly examples of your work. Include a pen and paper to take notes during the interview.
Similarly, have these items within easy reach for interviews conducted over the phone or through video conference. For phone interviews, consider disabling call waiting on the day of the interview; you don’t want to put the interviewer on hold, and persistent call-waiting beeps may distract you. For video conference interviews, make sure that the Web camera is angled correctly and that the surrounding area is neat. Needless to say, make sure to be in a quiet environment for either phone or video conference interviews.
6. The Interview
It’s natural to feel nervous when interviewing.To reduce nervousness, its recommended to get a good night’s sleep and remember every interview is an opportunity to practice getting more comfortable talking about and selling yourself.
When greeting people, smile and shake hands.Make eye contact and maintain good posture.Don’t use slang or give curt, one-word answers.Don’t chew gum, bite your nails, or use your phone. It’s recommended you disable your phone.
Making a positive impression is just as important when you interview remotely. Remember to speak clearly and listen attentively, just as you would if you were meeting with the interviewer in person. Even if no one can see you, your voice can betray attitude and confidence; sometimes, sitting up straight helps to project enthusiasm.
Responding to questions:
After introductions, the interviewer may explain the job in more detail, discuss the company, or initiate friendly conversation. The interviewer will then ask questions to gauge how well you would fill the position.
Briefly jotting down the question being asked, allows you to focus and think of your response, and provides a reminder of the question should you forget. It’s fine to ask the interviewer to please repeat the question, if needed.When responding to the interviewer, avoid vague answers, such as, “I want to work with people” (or animals, or cars, or whatever the job entails). Instead, describe the specific ways you have successfully performed a similar job in the past. Focus on your strengths.Toward the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions. Use this time to learn more about the position and company.
Questions you might want to ask:
What do you expect me to accomplish in my first 6 months?
Can you describe a typical assignment for this position?
What kind of employee training do you provide?
Will this position lead to advancement opportunities?
What do you like most about working for this company?
An interview is not the time to inquire about salary or benefits; the best time to discuss those topics is after you have been offered the job. You don’t want to seem more interested in financial rewards than in contributing to the company. If asked about salary requirements, try to convey flexibility.Before leaving the interview, make sure you understand the next step in the hiring process. Find out whether there will be another round of interviews, whether you should provide additional information, and when a hiring decision will be made.And remember to thank the interviewer at the end of the interview. Don’t forget to collect business cards or contact information from the interviewer(s).7. After the interview
Even after the in-person interview is over, the interview process isn’t complete. An important aspect of interviewing that is often forgotten is, the follow-up. Sending a thank you email to the interviewer(s), preferably within 24 to 48 hours is very important.Thank you emails should be brief — a few statements will suffice. Thank the interviewer for the opportunity, briefly reiterate your key skills, and confirm your enthusiasm for the job. Before sending, make sure to check for errors and be sure you’ve spelled the interviewers name correctly.If you don’t hear back within the time frame the interviewer specified, call or email to check on your status. Making that extra effort could mean the difference in getting the job—or not.
Nearly 50 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award program summer paid internships have occurred since the inception of the program in 2013. Honorees have worked with program partners including, College Recruiter, HelpSystems, Land O’Lakes, Logic PD, SPS Commerce, STEM Fuse, Thomson Reuters, Trimble (formerly PeopleNet), and Veritas Technologies. It’s clear that building a strong foundation of professionalism readiness is certain to lead to an effective internship experience of value to students and employers.
ABOUT VERITAS TECHNOLOGIES
Veritas Technologies empowers businesses of all sizes to discover the truth in information—their most important digital asset. Using the Veritas platform, customers can accelerate their digital transformation and solve pressing IT and business challenges including multi-cloud data management, data protection, storage optimization, compliance readiness and workload portability—with no cloud vendor lock-in. Ninety-seven percent of Fortune 100 companies rely on Veritas today to reveal data insights that drive competitive advantage.
ABOUT THE MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING PROGRAMMNAiC collaborates with businesses, organizations and schools to inspire, support, and empower young women in high school to become our next, best Minnesota technology talent. Want to get engaged with the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing program? To learn how your organization can support the computing interests of young women in Minnesota and lead the movement to disrupt gender equality in tech, contact Russell Fraenkel, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships, Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence, at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (612) 659-7224.
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